The Beta Delta Chapter of Lambda Iota Tau National Honor Society hosted the second day of its sixth annual LIT Spring Literary Forum on Friday.
The forum featured Bernard Bell, a professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University, as the keynote speaker.
This year’s event was themed “The African-American Novel: Text and Context.”
According to Lisa Gault, chapter president of the honor society, the essence of the annual event was to bridge the gap between professors, students and experts in the field of a particular literary genre.
“This year’s theme is African-American novel,” Gault said. “So we have several generations and perspectives coming together to discuss and celebrate with us.”
The event allowed multiple generations to converse through panel discussions, presentations, songs and re-enactments.
Bell stressed the importance of understanding the language, mentality and attitude of a particular era before accepting the messages in literature, film and music as truths in our own lives.
He said that in order for one to truly have a high level of “authenticity, authority and agency” about a particular cultural era or racial dynamic, people must have experienced it for themselves.
“People who live the racial, ethnic, class and gender experiences in which they write, are capable of expressing more subtle, ironic, and parodic levels of authenticity, authority and agency,” Bell said.
According to Bell, in modern literature and film, the African-American perspective is being misrepresented due to greed and the lack of understanding. Bell wants students to have a true understanding of African-American novel so they will be able to realize when things aren’t correct.
“We shouldn’t adopt popular opinion when it comes to African-American literature,” Gault said. “We need to have our own approach and not just use media interpretations to make judgments.”
The forum also included presentations from professors in the history, political science and education departments.
Assistant professor of history Ameenah Shakir gave a panel discussion titled “The Beginning of Womanhood: Rebecca Crumpler and Medical Discourses.”
Shakir traced the origins of African-American women’s medical activism from 1864-1883, which provided treatment for infectious diseases and critiqued limited financial support from the Freedman’s Bureau for former enslaved Africans.
Shakir was grateful for the opportunity to present to a large audience.
“I appreciate the LIT forum for including my work as a part of the larger conversation about the significance of black women’s activism,” Shakir said. “I think it’s awesome that they provide FAMU students and faculty a place and space to present their work on important themes in African-American literature.”